As we get prepared for the 2020 football season, we wanted to touch base with former NUIC players that have gone on to play at the college level to hear what their experiences are, what playing in the NUIC did to help them out for the college level, and what insight they would bestow upon younger guys looking to play at the collegiate level.
Name: Ian Kuehl
High School: Lena-Winslow
College: McKendree University
Position: Offensive Line and Heavyweight Wrestler
Major: Criminal Justice
Q. How has your experience at the college level been?
A. My college experience so far has been very fun and very challenging. I've had a great time meeting new people and competing at the collegiate level. College has been a great balancing act as trying to maintain classes and two sports can be difficult.
Q. What have you taken from playing in the NUIC to the college level?
A. From playing in the NUIC you see some of the best, if not the best, competition for 1A schools. This level of play made for a smoother transition from high school to college. For most small school kids the transition can be tough because of the size difference and ability of the other players, but because I played in this conference, I have never felt as if I am not up to par with my peers.
Q. What is your favorite memory from playing in the NUIC?
A. It is pretty hard to pick one favorite memory from playing in the NUIC, but one that comes to mind is the quarterfinals game against Aurora Christian. I picked this game over the state game because my senior season had been a struggle. We were a very good team with a tons of talent. Despite this, we struggled to put together the type of game we knew we were capable of. Then playoffs came around and many different types of news outlets were trying to convince us of Aurora Christian's invincibility and virtually gave us no chance. We went on to have a great week of practice and one of the best games I've ever been a part of. Everyone was doing their job and doing it to perfection. I think this was the closest that a team I have played for has ever come to playing a perfect game, and I'll never forget that day.
Q. What is your favorite college memory thus far?
A. My favorite college memory so far has to be one of our bus rides home from a football game. We were on our way back from an away game and we got KFC for the 8 plus hour ride back. I was pretty tired from the long day and was finishing up eating my mashed potatoes with the spork they gave us and passed out soon after. All I remember next is waking up to my friend sitting next to me just dying laughing. Apparently I fell asleep with the spork in my mouth and naturally he took a picture of it and sent it to the freshmen on the team and some of the older guys on the bus. I don't think that'll be something that the team forgets for a while, but it was all in good fun.
Q. What are your plans after college?
A. My plans after college are to move to Iowa and become a state trooper. I've been interested in becoming a trooper since middle school and it is a reliable job. Being a state trooper can also open other doors to opportunities within the criminal justice system and can lead to a second career after retirement.
Q. What insight would you provide younger athletes looking to play at the college level?
A. Insight I would want younger athletes, especially seniors, to know is to not get caught up in the recruiting process. Personally, it was my least favorite thing about high school. I would get so lost in where I was going the next year, or if I would get the offer I wanted, that I ended up missing out on a lot of great things that happened. It was when I finally had made my decision and let go of all the "what-ifs" plaguing my mind that I was finally able to enjoy the last 2 months of school. Long story short, enjoy high school athletics while you can because there is nothing else quite like it.